Russia has put on hold a shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, following the receipt of intelligence from Israeli sources that the advanced weaponry could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, as has happened in the past.
President Vladmir Putin reportedly froze the transfer of the missile system to Iran after the Israeli warning, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida published the unconfirmed report over the weekend, citing an unnamed source said to be “familiar” with Putin.
The Israeli intelligence report said Iran had repeatedly attempted to transfer the SA-22 Greyhound short-range air defense system to the Lebanese-based terrorist group.
The report also said that Russian pilots claimed to have detected the presence of advanced anti-aircraft systems in Hezbollah-controlled territory straddling the Syria-Lebanon border.
Russia and Iran signed a contract for the delivery of five S-300 batteries in 2007. But in autumn 2010, Russia’s then-president Dmitry Medvedev shelved the deal amid escalating global sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The contract, worth more than $800 million, was cancelled and the advance payment returned to the Iranians.
Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit in the Court of Arbitration in Geneva over breach of the contract. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow persuaded Tehran to withdraw the lawsuit after “long and tough negotiations.”
In April 2015, shortly after the announcement of the Lausanne outline for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, Putin lifted the ban on S-300 deliveries to Tehran, despite American and Israeli objections.
In August, Iran and Russia announced that the system would be delivered by the end of the year.